Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body. However, calcium tends to be the most common mineral deficiency in older adults. Calcium has many functions. One of its main functions is to maintain strong bones. In fact, at least 99% of all calcium in the body is found in your bones and teeth. Yet, due to our environment, lack of vitamin D, a decrease in physical activity and poor food sources, osteoporosis, otherwise known as brittle bone disease, is a major concern to our aging population. Osteoporosis occurs when calcium is lost directly from the bone matrix, resulting in spinal fractures and associated complications.
Most adults reach their peak bone mass by age 30, with a slow, yet gradual decline occurring naturally throughout the years. In addition to normal calcium loss, there are certain things that can accelerate the loss of bone mass such as:
lack of exercise
eating too many acid foods (see acid/alkaline chart)
eating large amounts of red meat
excessive alcohol intake
Food Sources of Calcium
One of the best methods to boost your levels of calcium is to increase your intake of calcium-rich foods. The top foods rich in calcium include:
Food Serving - Calories - Amount(mg)
green turnips, cooked 1 cup - 28 - 197
spinach, boiled 1 cup - 41 - 244
yogurt, low-fat 1 cup - 155 - 447
sesame seeds ¼ cup - 206 - 351
tofu 4 ounces - 80 - 100
milk, 2% 1 cup - 121 - 296
blackstrap molasses 2 tsp - 32 - 117
Should You Take Calcium Supplements?
Due to environments stressors, a decrease in the quality of food sources and a limited amount of sunshine in the winter months, it is beneficial to take a calcium supplement with vitamin D (to enhance absorption). According to public health advice, the recommendations for calcium are:
0 to 6 months: 210 mg
6 to 12 months: 270 mg
1 to 3 years: 500 mg
4 to 8 years: 800 mg
9 to 13 years: 1300 mg
14 to 18 years: 1300 mg
19 to 30 years: 1000 mg
31 to 50 years: 1000 mg
51+ years: 1200 mg
Postmenopausal women not taking hormone replacement therapy: 1500 mg
Pregnant and lactating women (younger than 18 years): 1300 mg
Pregnant and lactating women (older than 18 years): 1000 mg
In order to address your total health needs properly, it is important to ensure you are selecting a multi-vitamin that matches your nutritional and physical needs. To personalize your supplement plan, visit the Truestar Vitamin Comparison site.
Other Benefits of Calcium
In addition to the bone building benefits, other positive attributes of calcium include:
1. Calcium keeps your weight down! According to recent research, getting enough calcium in the diet is one of the best ways to maintain an ideal body weight. Without a proper intake of calcium, the body perceives this deficiency as a state of emergency which leads to an increase of fat storage.
2. Calcium is good for your heart. In fact, a reduction in calcium can be directly related to an increase in blood pressure. In order to ensure proper contraction and relaxation of your heart muscle, a proper intake of calcium is critical.
3. Calcium reduces the symptoms of pre-menstrual syndrome which includes cramping, irritability and moodiness.
In a Nutshell
Calcium-rich foods such as green leafy vegetables and low-fat dairy products should be included in your diet daily. Try to eliminate the calcium robbers from your lifestyle such as smoking, drinking excessive alcohol or eating high acidic foods such as red meat. As a nutritional safety net, lean on a high quality calcium supplement to ensure strong bones for life!